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The Mast-Head: A New Trade Parade

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 19:16

What East Hampton needs is more traffic,” said nobody in his or her right mind ever. But this is the net effect of all the seemingly small decisions made each day by the powers that be.

Unless you sell gasoline at Hamptons-inflated prices, the problem is universally agreed upon that there are too many cars and trucks on too few roads with less-than-adequate intersections and next to nothing like a plan to accommodate it all. On my way to work yesterday morning, I was surprised to see a long backup on Old Stone Highway in Amagansett of drivers working their way toward Montauk Highway; up to now, this was a weekend thing.

Former Deputy East Hampton Village Mayor Barbara Borsack lives on Accabonac Road and has been posting on Facebook photographs of vehicles stacked in both directions from the new stop signs there. A new trade parade, running opposite to the familiar stoppages on Sunrise Highway, pours out of Springs in the morning and goes the other way in the evening. East and westbound drivers stew in stop-and-go snaking lines through Amagansett.

Decades ago, a movement to build a bypass skirting the hamlets and villages on Montauk Highway was beaten back. At the time the fear was that more people would come if the road was opened. It is now too late, what with the woods where it would have gone almost fully developed. They came anyway, bypass or no bypass, and I wonder what the opposition would have been like had the naysayers been offered a seat in a time machine forward to 2021.

There are endless sources of irritation on the roads here. Russell Bennett, who works at the Star office, observed recently that the solution to the beach-parking crunch was for him to get a landscaping truck — he could leave it wherever he wanted, given that officials have no interest whatsoever in the rule about not leaving vehicles in roadways.

Complaining about traffic is a way to while away the summer hours, but traffic is also dangerous. Delays create frustrations, and frustrated drivers do stupid things, though stupid drivers do frustrating things, too. My own little window on the world looks out onto the Buell Lane intersection with Montauk Highway, which gives new meaning to the phrase near-miss. In two days last week, I saw a driver try to get under a passing semi then another pull into the path of an even bigger 18-wheeler hauling 20-ton boulders to shore up the Montauk Lighthouse. I texted a friend in law enforcement. “Un friking real,” he responded. Unreal, indeed, but I saw it with my very own eyes.

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